What company will be the first to make autonomous cars readily available in the United States? Will it be Tesla, Google or the Apple self-driving car? Or might it China and its manufacturers’ efforts? It’s hard to know what to expect or who will be at the front of the pack.

Beyond pending infrastructure and legal issues, the successful company will likely be at the forefront with its design, functionality and affordability. Functionality involves ensuring the car can do what it is expected to do without failure.

Tesla is leading the pack toward attainable autonomous cars.
Tesla is leading the pack toward attainable autonomous cars.

But how? Machine learning is a technology that allows machines to learn and adapt without specific programming based on data input from others. The more sources of input, the better and faster the machine learns. Logically, in the world of self-driving cars, the more vehicles on the road, the greater the data input and the more improved the result.

That’s important to me and many other in the automotive industry. I’m not ready to turn over control of a vehicle to something that ‘might’ be able to do what it’s supposed to. A friend who works for a towing company says he and his colleagues doubt “intelligent,” “robotic” and fully autonomous cars may be involved in fewer accidents and other issues. It’s a dilemma.

Tesla wants to be the first to achieve the production numbers needed to excel and dominate the machine learning market. The company’s Model 3 began production in the United States earlier this year and is now in limited release. Advanced editions of the Model 3 are predicted for release in 2018 and 2019.

With its base price of $35,000 (before government incentives), the Model 3 is attainable. The current average price of a new car in the United States is about $32,000. Unlike a ticket to fly to Mars and its $2 million price tag and no promises, the Model 3 is affordable for a larger segment of the population. It’s analogous to a consumer opting for the higher-priced, latest iPhone instead a new Android model because the former has one extra new feature.

Adam Jones, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, was quoted in Yahoo! News, saying he believes Tesla could have three million vehicles on the road within the next six years. His prediction is based on the Model 3’s accessibility and the advancement its quantity brings to machine learning.

Tesla also may collaborate with Uber. The ride-share company would utilize the electric carmaker’s autonomous cars. Thus, the Model 3 would be further attainable as a business opportunity.

Consider: Instead of your car being parked while you’re at work, it could pick up passengers and escort them to different locations. Or maybe the autonomous Tesla could just pull up in front of the grocery store to pick up an online order to deliver to the person at home raising four kids who can’t get to market. It might be a stretch, but business opportunities with autonomous vehicles are could greatly vary.

Similar to smartphones and other technologies, the autonomous car market is ever-evolving. But the most affordable option is the Tesla Model 3 and its probability for more machine learning that will likely succeed to the greatest degree. It’s currently ahead in the race to getting more self-driving cars on the road and into more driveways in the United States.

Text: Daniel Fialko

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